full: _http://www.truthout.org/022709F_ (http://www.truthout.org/022709F) 
Poor though it was, the Soviet food distribution system never collapsed  
completely. In particular, the deliveries of bread continued even during the  
worst of times, partly because has always been such an important part of the  
Russian diet, and partly because access to bread symbolized the pact between 
people and the Communist government, enshrined in oft-repeated revolutionary  
slogans. Also, it is important to remember that in Russia most people have 
lived  within walking distance of food shops, and used public transportation to 
get out  to their kitchen gardens, which were often located in the countryside  
immediately surrounding the relatively dense, compact cities. This 
combination  of factors made for some lean times, but very little malnutrition 
and no  
In the United States, the agricultural system is heavily industrialized,  and 
relies on inputs such as diesel, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and,  
perhaps most importantly, financing. In the current financial climate, the  
farmers' access to financing is not at all assured. This agricultural system is 
efficient, but only if you regard fossil fuel energy as free. In fact, it is a 
 way to transform fossil fuel energy into food with a bit of help from 
sunlight,  to the tune of 10 calories of fossil fuel energy being embodied in 
calorie  that is consumed as food. The food distribution system makes heavy use 
of  refrigerated diesel trucks, transforming food over hundreds of miles to 
resupply  supermarkets. The food pipeline is long and thin, and it takes only a 
couple of  days of interruptions for supermarket shelves to be stripped bare. 
Many people  live in places that are not within walking distance of stores, 
not served by  public transportation, and will be cut off from food sources 
once they are no  longer able to drive. 
Besides the supermarket chains, much of the nation's nutrition needs are  
being met by an assortment of fast food joints and convenience stores. In fact, 
in many of the less fashionable parts of cities and towns, fast food and  
convenience store food is all that is available. In the near future, this trend 
is likely to extend to the more prosperous parts of town and the suburbs.
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